Come spring, anglers eagerly await the season opener. But rather than letting anxiety build, savvy fly fishers will put their energy to good use, prepping their gear for optimal performance.
One of the most important, yet also most overlooked, tasks anglers can tackle is cleaning and rehabilitating their fly lines.
Modern fly lines are remarkably durable, yet they do have a finite lifespan. Floating lines can get nicked, scraped, and just plain worn down through a season or two of casting. Rocks, trees, and tangled backcasts can all result in damage to the line. And the more damage that the line receives, the less efficiently the line floats. Fortunately, that finite life can be extended with a little care during the season, and a bit over rehab in the offseason.
A good spring-cleaning ritual for all fly fishers should include the following tasks.
- Remove any old leaders and then strip the line off your reel, into a bucket of clean, warm water. As you strip the line, check every inch of it from its tip to its butt along the way. If you find any cracks, splits, or deep cuts/scratches, replace the line. If the damage penetrates to the line’s inner core, it’s likely the line will break on the first big fish fought in the coming season. And even if the damage is only in the surface coating, it could easily progress to
- If there is no damage to the line, swish it in the warm water to break up any dirt/grit on the line. Do NOT use soap. Soaps help clean things, in part, by breaking down the
surface-tensionof water so it can better penetrate the dirty material and ‘lift’ grime away. But floating lines rely on the surface tension of water to float high. Even with the best rinse, some soap residue can linger, making the line less efficient. Pinch the line with a clean, dry cloth as you pull it from the bucket to wipe off the water and lingering dirt.
- Treat your line with a combo line cleaning/dressing product.
For task #3, we recommend Loon’s new Line Up Kit ($15). This simple-to-use kit earned our respect for not only cleaning used lines, but also for rehabilitating them! The Line Up Kit includes a bottle of Loon’s Line Speed and the simple Line Cleaning Tool—a pad of sheepskin (fleece intact) positioned between two wood blocks. The kit is simple to use: Place a small amount of the Line Speed solution onto Cleaning Tool pad, and close blocks around the fly line. Strip the line through the blocks to apply the solution to the line. Let the line loosely coil on a clean surface as it comes through the tool, and let it air-dry for several hours (overnight is best). Once dry, buff with a clean soft microfiber cloth and respool onto your reel.
The Line Speed solution cleans even micro particles from the line surface and restores the slick nature of the synthetic line sheath, making it easier to cast, while improving its on-the-water performance. The Line Speed solution will also fill in small abrasions and cracks as well as adding UV protection to the line to help extends its useful life.
Once in the full swing of fly-fishing season, Loon also offers a new field-use line care product. The Loon Stream Line ($5.50 per bottle) solution can be applied to a line while fishing. Stream Line is a combination line lubricant and floatant treatment. The Stream Line can be applied with the Cleaning Tool, or with a small microfiber cloth. The line may be used immediately after application. Buy now